Zenith Hotel – Oscar Coop – Phane

Zenith Hotel

Oscar Coop-Phane

Arcadia Books

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The Blurb:

I’m a street prostitute. Not a call girl or anything. No, a real street whore, with stiletto heels and menthol cigarettes.’ Narrator Nanou gives a detailed account of her day, from the moment she wakes up with a foul taste in her mouth, in her sordid rented room, until the minute she crawls back into her bed at night to sleep. Interwoven with her story are portraits of her clients. Oscar Coop-Phane invents an astonishing cast of original and deeply human characters – losers, defeated by the world around them – who seek solace in Nanou’s arms. Original and moving, this short book deftly paints a world of solitude and sadness, illuminated by precious moments of tenderness and acts of kindness.

My Review:

I knew I had to read this book after seeing all the “buzz” about it on twitter!

The Book is small, but I cannot say its a small story. It is a large story in 100 pages!. The story is fresh and feels so real that you are drawn into it as a reader. The Story follows Nanou, a street prostitute and the world that her life brings her. Despite it being a fictional book there is a definite element of reality as the hard life that Nanou has is really brought to life. The story isn’t written for the reader to feel sympathy for Nanou (despite that I actually did), but it makes us realise poverty that some people face that is their reality and not fiction. The loneliness and the sadness was a true element in this book, not only of Nanou herself, but also her clients.

It’s a clever book, opening the eyes of the reader. The author, Oscar, was young when he wrote this book. Such a talent to write in this way at such a young age, I can see why this book won the Prix De Flore.

A great quick read to open your eyes with. I recommend this book for someone who wants something different to read.

 

 

Q and A with Hannah Beckerman

Q&A with Hannah Beckerman

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The Dead Wife’s Handbook

  •  Tell us about your novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook.

 The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the story of Rachel who’s died of a heart attack at the (too-young) age of 36. The novel opens a year after her death, where we find her in some sort of netherworld, watching over her husband and seven-year-old daughter as they try to rebuild their lives without her. It’s about Rachel’s family and friends – as well as Rachel herself – coming to terms with their grief and understanding the impact Rachel had on their lives.

  • How did you come up with the idea of writing from a deceased persons perspective?

           I came up with the idea after a conversation with a friend about her ex-husband. She’d told me how she felt uncomfortable about the possibility of him telling his new partner her secrets. I started thinking about how that probably makes many of us feel uncomfortable and that the most extreme version of that would be if you were dead but nonetheless able to witness what was being said about you. Suddenly there was this dead character – Rachel – in my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how she felt.

  •  I couldn’t stop crying throughout the book, I really did feel Rachel’s heart ache. Was there a particular part in the book that you felt was most difficult to write?

I did cry quite a lot during the writing of the book! I think the scenes that were most affecting for me when writing were some of the conversations between Max (Rachel’s husband) and Ellie (their daughter). I love their relationship, and I love both of them as characters, and so Max’s tenderness and Ellie’s childlike desire to understand (even though she really can’t yet) were very emotive to imagine. There were times when my husband would come into the study and I’d be in floods of tears!

  •  Your book club questions at the end of the book are very thought provoking. What are your thoughts on book clubs and have you ever been part of one?

 I’ve never been part of a book club but I love the idea of them. When I was a TV Producer at the BBC I ran a project called The Big Read which was partly about getting people to vote on their favourite novel, but largely about extending the reach of reading. So I was involved in organising projects to set up book clubs and reading groups around the country. I think they’re a fantastic way for people to have a shared experience with a book – and we all know there’s nothing better than raving about a book you love or ranting about one you didn’t!

  •  What can we expect from your second novel?

 I’m just working on revisions for book 2 at the moment. The subject is under wraps (I haven’t even told my mum yet!) but it’s a story about family, relationships and identity with a few dark secrets thrown in for good measure!

Thank you So much to Hannah for taking part in this Q&A!

 

The Perfect Match – Katie Fforde

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The Perfect Match
Katie Fforde

What is on the back:
Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn’t have …

Now she’s made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he’s been preoccupied, and she’s starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she’s over him, isn’t she?

My review:
First of all isn’t the cover just gorgeous!!!
I am often drawn to a book by its cover and when this book dropped on my door step (I was kindly sent an advance copy to review) I was so excited!

The story is about Bella, who has moved away from home to live with her Godmother Alice. Life is good for Bella, she has a job she loves and she is dating Nevil who also happens to be her boss.

Bella becomes good friends with Jane, and elderly lady living alone in a large house. Bella met her through the estate agents but instead of selling Jane’s house a friendship blossomed.

Bella’s life gets turned upside down when Dominic, Jane’s nephew and a character from Bella’s past, turns up out of the blue. This pulls at Bella’s heart as she re examines her relationship with Nevil. Unfortunately she didn’t need to look that hard!

The gentleness of this story is lovely. Katie has a great way of introducing characters and their relationships. Nothing was forced in this book. It was a delightful read. I love the way Katie brings relationship and love to all the characters and addressing age gaps proving that you don’t have to be young to fall in love.

I especially loved the descriptions of the gardens. It made me dream of the summer sitting in my garden appreciating the sunshine. Just a dream during these cold months.

This would be a “perfect” book to read on holiday or just relaxing on the sofa. Congratulations Katie on another fantastic book which I loved to read.

The Dead Wife’s Handbook – Hannah Beckerman

The Dead Wife's Handbook

The Dead Wife’s Handbook

Hannah Beckerman

What’s on the back of the book:

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the stunning emotional debut from author Hannah Beckerman. ‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’ Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating. Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems. As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for. Hannah Beckerman gives an unforgettable exploration of love and loss in her first novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook. Praise for The Dead Wife’s Handbook: “Beautifully written and full of love”. (Fern Britton). “A moving and intriguing debut novel”. (Fabulous Magazine). Hannah Beckerman is a former TV and film producer living in London. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is her first novel.

My Review:

Get your tissues and your heart ready before you even open this book.

I heard about this book through other bloggers on twitter so knew I just had to read it.

The book follows Rachel, who has been dead for a year. Her unexpected death not only shocked her family but it also shocked Rachel as she watches her family and friends deal with life without her. Rachel has access to watch down on her husband Max and daughter Ellie as they deal with the tragedy and try with best to move on with their lives. Rachel narrates the story and the reader follows her witnessing the often frustrating moments and the realisation that life for Rachel was far too short and that she had so much more to do with her life.

I have read many debut novels, but this one was different. I could tell a lot of time effort and tears were shed during the process of writing this book. I do not know how Hannah wrote this book! The emotions and frustrations of Rachel were clear to see, the heartbreak of a mother and wife were sometimes very difficult to read, but it was written in such a way I had to read on. I felt the anger with Rachel that she was taken away from her life far to early. Reading how Rachel watched Max bring up Ellie without her was so moving, I wanted to grab Rachel and run so it didn’t break her heart even more.

As a member of a book club I was very impressed that at the back of the book there was questions targeted to book clubs. I cannot wait to discuss some of the questions at my next book club meeting.

Every review I have read about this book as ran true. Heart breaking, moving and emotional were often included in other reviews and I totally agree.

I can honestly say this book has made me look at my own life. I  lost someone close to me a few years ago, I miss him to this day. This book has made me think from his perspective, how frustrated he must be for me sometimes, his heart breaking for me, especially over the recent months . It has made me follow my dreams and stop worrying!

Hannah you have no idea what you have done to me, I’m in tears just writing this review!

Congratulations on a truly wonderful book. you should be very proud!

Frances.

p.s come back to my blog on the 11th March for a Q and A with Hannah Beckerman!

How to get a (love) life – Rosie Blake

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How to get a (love) life
By Rosie Blake

The story is focused in Nicola Brown. Stuck in her “single” ways, due to her OCD, her life consists of nights in alone eating her evening meal from a set weekly menu.

Caroline, her office colleague, thinks Nicola needs to lighten up and set herself free by daring Nicola to find a date in time for Valentines Day which is in 3 months time.

As there is not a queue of men waiting to date Nicola, she ends up studying books on the art of dating!

Her helpful Brother Mark tried to set her up with his friends. Poor Nicola ends up on dates that she was not expecting , including a lovely date that involved kayak!

The one man who would love to date Nicola is Chris, and that is just asking for trouble as he is the top paying client of the actor agency of which Nicola works for.

This laugh out loud book was great to cheer me up during the winter blues.
I read it quickly as it was so easy to read. The story flowed at a good pace and the character were well written. It is your typical chic lit book. That’s why I loved it!

Well done Rosie! Let me know when the next book is published!

The Guest Book by Holly Martin

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The Guest Book by Holly Martin

I would like to thank Gosling Girls book tours and Holly Martin for allowing me to be part of this blog tour! It’s my very first tour.

First of all have a look at the blurb:

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider – whatever her colourful array of guests require. A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself – especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!

Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ – one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

My review:

How good is this book!
It is based in the lovely Willow Cottage and it’s guest book is the story. Annie Butterworth is the owner and she often comments in the book herself, especially when a celebrity comes to stay.

The idea for the book is very clever. The whole book is based of comments guest write in the guest book. What a great idea. Nothing I have read before has been in this format. It took me a while to get used to it but once I did it was so easy to read. I was laughing out loud in places. Willow Cottage has had some interesting guests!
Annie’s story is heartwarming after the loss of her husband and learning to love and laugh at what life and Willow Cottage brings.
The way the guests are brought to life is great. The amount of characters in this book must have been a handful for Holly to manage.
I loved this book. I read it quickly as I couldn’t put it down. Well done Holly!

http://theguestbookhollymartin.wordpress.com/

@GGBookTours
@hollymartin00

Beyond Grace’s Rainbow – Carmel Harrington

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I honestly don’t know where to start!
Wow what a book!
The story is centred around Grace Devlin, a thirty something single mother to Jack. It begins with Grace finding out she has cancer and debating how to tell her close friends. Grace comes across as a very strong and loving character and I instantly warmed to her. Her love for her friends and Jack was clear to see. Her past love Liam, Jack’s father, comes back into Grace’s life which rocks her world further.
The books covers two quite sensitive issues; cancer and adoption. Both themes are dealt with in such a way that your heart strings are pulled yet with an element of humour just in the right places. There was even some mystery in the story which brought to light Grace’s history, which in some places was hard to read as it was so well written.
It wasn’t until I finished reading this book I realised this was Carmel’s debut novel. Well congratulations Carmel this is the first book I have ever read that has made me cry.
This author is one to watch out for. Writing with such emotion that you get drawn into the bitter sweet story. Carmel, let me know when your next book is published. I cannot wait to read it.

Summer at the Lake by Erica James

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Summer at the Lake
Erica James
Orion Publishing

If you need a cure for the winter blues then this is the book for you!

I’ll be honest I had never read a book by Erica James before. But I do judge a book by its cover and when Orion Publishing kindly sent this to me to review I was so excited! The cover is just so beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get started.

The story has 3 main characters. Firstly Floriana, who was lost in thoughts didn’t see a car heading towards her. Esme, an elderly lady with her own past to deal with and Adam, a property developer, were luckily there to help. In this strange twist of fate a strong friendship was created. The main storyline is about Floriana battling against her love from her past for Seb, after receiving an invitation to his wedding in Lake Como.

I don’t want to give too much away so I will not go in to the detail of the plot. But the theme of love in the past and love in the future makes this book heart warming to read. The characters are so well written. I instantly warmed to Floriana and everyone needs an Esme in their life!

The descriptions of Lake Como made me want to jump on a plane and go! Funnily enough, as I was finishing the book my husband was watching Top Gear and in the episode they were driving around Lake Como! Erica got the beautiful scenery spot on, no wonder I felt like I was at the lake myself throughout the book.

As the weather is wet and rubbish outside in the UK at the moment, go get this book and relax with a gentle story in the sun!

I would recommend this book. Congratulations Erica, I loved it!

Many thanks to Orion for letting me review this book.

The Memory Box – Sarah Webb

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The Memory Box
Sarah Webb
Panmacmillan

I thought this book was going to be fluffy and predictable with the main character being named Pandora and the title of the book called The Memory Box, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The story follows Pandora Schuster as she turns 30. Bringing the past to the future, dealing with being tested for the BRCA1 gene after her mother passed away after suffering from breast cancer when Pandora was a child. She also has a nine year old daughter and is agonising with the idea of Olivier, the father,being part of her daughter’a life. Then there is Declan, Pandora’s boyfriend, with his own life troubles in the mix. It’s no wonder Pandora doesn’t know which way to turn.
With so many themes in this book it would have been easy to think there is too much going on to be an easy read. I was wrong. Sarah Webb has created characters that the reader can relate to allowing the story to flow without it being complicated to read. The book is full of love for family and friends. It draws the reader in as I felt sympathy for Pandora as she tries to work everything out. I even felt sorry for poor Declan!
It is well written and I couldn’t put it down. Whilst I would class it as an easy chic lit read it is not as fluffy as a normal easy read you can pick up. I loved it! It’s a must read for those who love chic lit. Congratulations Sarah!
I cannot wait for the next book!

2014! The year of making time!

To quote all of my friends “you have make time for you”.
To put it bluntly the end of 2013 was utter rubbish. So rubbish I wasn’t even in the mood to read. So I would like to make my first post in 2014 to start with an apology to all the authors, publishers and friends. I am going to MAKE time to read more and review more as this is what makes me happy.
Thank you to all the bloggers and twitter friends that have supported me over the last 6 weeks or so. The blogging community is great!
I have a bookshelf full of books to read plus a kindle full to get reading. I cannot wait to share with you my future reviews of some great books!
Happy 2014 everyone!